2018 Softball Season Preview: Mountaineers Tabbed to Finish Eighth in NECC Preseason Poll

softball player hits the ball

ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Southern Vermont College softball team is midway through its preparations to get back into the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) postseason, but the Mountaineers are working to do more than just get into the tournament this year.

SVC has been selected by league coaches to finish the season in eighth-place of the NECC standings based on the preseason poll which was released on Friday.

The Mountaineers will once again be led by head coach Paige Gage who is in her second year as the Southern Vermont skipper.

“My expectations for this season are to make it back to the tournament and to compete in every game,” Gage said. “That means: competitive at bats, making the plays defensively, pitching to contact, and not letting one error turn into multiple errors. If we do these at a consistent basis, we should be in the playoffs and playing competitive softball in May.”

SVC made it to the postseason in 2017 with a league record of 4-14 (4-20 overall). As the No. 8 team in the tournament, the Mountaineers were eliminated by top-seeded Newbury College with a 13-3 loss in the opening round.

Southern Vermont sees nine players from last year’s crew come back for another crack at making a title run—three of those being senior members of the program. Only one returner is a junior while five are sophomores. Gage welcomes an additional sophomore to the team and five freshmen who will all have a chance to make an immediate impact for the Mountaineers.

“With an improved roster, this year should be fun to watch,” said Gage. “The newcomers are looking to compete right away at this level. There is a lot of competition for playing time this year which was something we lacked last season. Team chemistry this year is great—which shows in practice. A lot of recruits who are on campus notice the chemistry and want to be a part of the program because of it.”

Gage thinks that her experience as a first-year head coach in ‘17, along with that of her returning players, will lead to success for SVC on the diamond.

“I believe this season will be different because I’ve seen the Conference once already,” she added, “and, with this roster and our program going in the direction we want, we will be able to compete in every game. We have improved in all areas of the game, especially defensively.”

Southern Vermont begins the 2018 campaign with a four-game road trip early next month—the weekend starting with a doubleheader at Swarthmore College on Saturday, March 3. SVC heads to Fort Myers, Fla. to play 10 games during its Spring Break week, and the Mountaineers then gear up to open NECC action with an Opening Day twin bill against Mitchell College on Friday, March 30. Southern Vermont will hold Senior Day for its three graduating members on Saturday, April 21 in conjunction with a league doubleheader against Wheelock College.

2018 NECC Softball Preseason Poll

1. Lesley — 60 (4)
2. Newbury — 57 (3)
3. Becker — 48 (1)
4. Elms — 43 (1)
5. Bay Path — 37
6. Dean — 31
7. Mitchell — 25
8. Southern Vermont — 13
9. Wheelock — 10

 (Parentheses denote first-place votes)